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uts ithree institute: infection, immunity, innovation. research strength

Who we are

The ithree institute brings together a team of scientists with diverse skill sets who collectively address key challenges in the understanding and control of infectious diseases in humans and animals.

Our senior scientists have recently refined the key research themes associated with their respective groups. Collectively, this enhances the ability of ithree researchers to increase their impact in the antibiotic resistance, food safety and infectious diseases research fields.

Professor Liz Harry

Director, ithree institute

Liz HarryLiz has pioneered techniques that have changed our understanding of the internal organisation of bacterial cells and the process of bacterial cell division. She works with industry to develop novel antibiotics that target this process in pathogens and current investigations include exploring how natural products function as effective therapeutics for infectious disease.


Associate Professor Aaron Darling

Aaron DarlingAaron was part of the team that first sequenced and analysed genomes of pathogenic E. coli and he has extensive experience in comparative genomics and evolutionary modeling. His research is based on computational and molecular techniques that will lead to a better grasp of the relationship between humans and microorganisms.


Associate Professor Cynthia Whitchurch

Cynthia Whitchurch

Cynthia’s research into how communities of bacteria live and thrive relies on advanced microscopy techniques. She directs UTS’ microbial imaging facility, which she established. Her discoveries include a number of important paradigm shifts that relate to the formation, architecture, and lifestyle of disease-causing bacteria within biofilms. 

My researchBacterial Lifestyles

Associate Professor Diane McDougald

Diane McDougaldDiane investigates virulence and survival mechanisms of bacterial pathogens such as Pseudomonas and Vibrio sp., which are widely distributed in aquatic environments. Investigations include how the bacteria adapt to stress – including the impact of predation by protozoa - and the underlying molecular control of these responses.

My researchPathogen Evolution

Associate Professor Garry Myers

Garry MyersGarry’s research interests centre on Chlamydia sp., a common cause of severe bacterial infections in humans and animals. Despite its immense global health impact, little is known about how Chlamydia infects host cells leading to tissue scarring and disease. Garry develops and applies genome-wide and gene-based tools and techniques to increase understanding of host-pathogen interactions.

My researchChlamydia Pathogenesis

Dr Iain Duggin

Iain DugginIain investigates how microbes survive environmental changes and stress by regulating their morphology and cell cycle. He employs a range of techniques including functional genomics, molecular genetics, microscopy and protein biochemistry. Iain also translates his discoveries into biotech and medical applications, including new treatments for infectious disease.


Dr Nico Petty

Nicola PettyNico’s research focuses on bacterial pathogens and their viruses (bacteriophages) with the aim of developing new strategies for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. This includes genome evolution of multidrug resistant bacteria, development of new bioinformatics tools, the contribution of bacteriophages to the emergence of new pathogens, and the exploitation of bacteriophages for novel antibiotics.


Professor Steve Djordjevic

Steve DjordjevicSteve’s primary interest is in the interactions of bacterial cell surface molecules and host cell receptors. These molecules play important roles in attachment, colonisation and invasion. His projects extend to investigations of the transmission of antibiotic resistance between humans, animals, and the environment using whole genome sequencing, alternatives to the use of antibiotics in agriculture, and porcine vaccine development.


Dr Shona Blair

Shona BlairInstitute Manager, ithree institute
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